March 22, 2003
Arizona Head Coach Joan Bonvicini
Opening comment... "We are very glad to be back in the NCAA Tournament. We've worked very hard to get here. Obviously, that was one of our goals, to come here. When you get this far there are no easy games. Notre Dame for our first-round opponent is a very good team. It's interesting because it's the third time we've played them in three years. They are only two years removed from winning the NCAA Title. They are extremely well coached. It's going to be a really great game. They have one of the best three-point shooters in NCAA history in Alicia Ratay. And the freshman of the year from a year ago, Jacqueline Batteast. I'm very impressed with their team. And with Courtney LaVere coming off the bench, I think that she is one of the top freshman in the country. We are in for a tough ball game tomorrow."
On playing up to their competition... "In the beginning of the year a lot of teams didn't know a lot about us. We were coming off of a difficult season for us, a .500 season. I knew that we were much better than people, prognosticators thought, but you don't do a whole lot of talking when you're .500. We started off with LSU. We had a very good opportunity to win that game and I know that was quite a while ago, but we had a very tough non-conference schedule. I was pleased with our team from the very beginning. I think that we gained confidence throughout the year. My big thing is to be consistent. The last 10 games I think that we have gone 8-2 against very good quality teams. This team has learned and understand what it means to win. I think in the beginning there were a couple of games we probably shouldn't have lost, if you look at our record and some of the closeness of the game. I think our team understands that. We'll really see the benefit next year. We're a young team. We've learned a lot. We will be ready to play. We are very excited to be here. I think we've prepared ourselves well from our non-conference schedule and obviously in the Pac-10. When you go on the road in the Pac-10 you're really on the road, the only bus trip we make is to Arizona State. We feel that our conference has really prepared us for the NCAA Tournament."
On the predetermination of the sites... "I think it will continue this way for the next few years until the NCAA can evaluate the crowds, how much of an advantage is it to the host team and is women's basketball ready to move to the next level. Maybe going to eight-team sites as the men do. That's what I see as a progression. I think the next wave, the NCAA will let us play like this for a few years and then next go to eight sites of eight teams. They will probably have a home-court team there and then eventually go to neutral sites. That's the way I see it. But I think that right now we are very excited. It has obviously helped the teams that are hosting that they can have a year to sell tickets, to advertise and market those games. I'm excited I think that we've come a long way since the first one I believe was in 1982. We've grown incredibly. I know Kansas State has done an excellent job. A year ago they had a great home attendance for the first and second rounds and I'm sure they will do the same this year. I'm excited to be here."
On her personal feelings on the predetermination of the sites.. "I think that it's good for women's basketball to have predetermined sites. I know that some people don't agree. But I do. I think that it's very hard to host and find out six, seven days before and sell tickets and get everything set-up the way it needs to be with hotels. I think that we are going in the right direction. I think that the hard thing for next year is that the teams that are hosting this year may not be hosting next year. I think that women's basketball is going through some growing pains. I think those things are helping."
On seeing other games played today... "I haven't been playing attention to the scores. The only team I'm concerned about right now is (Arizona). And as I said, we are just excited to be here."
Sophomore, guard, Dee-Dee Wheeler
On forcing turnovers, rattling the opponents and the Wildcats' defense ... "I would say it is the goal of my defense. It's not just me, it's my teammates, too. I'm quick, but my other teammates also play a role in forcing turnovers."
On playing in the Pac-10 and tough competition... "I think we played well against our better opponents, the ranked teams. As you can see, we played LSU and went to overtime with them and played Georgia. I think we played up to the level of our opponent. If we can continue to do that, we'll have a great game against Notre Dame."
On Shawntinice Polk this season... "I think she's made the transition well from high school to college ball. She started practicing with us last January, although she wasn't able to play. I really think she's adjusted well. When she's double- and triple-teamed, I think she's taken it well. She's a great passer, a very unselfish player. By double- and triple-teaming her, she's able to see the court with her vision. I think she's handled it well."
Senior, guard/forward, Krista Warren
On playing in the NCAA Tournament... "My initial (reaction) was that I was a little shocked at first for us going all of the way to the East (Region). I'm excited and we're hoping to meet UConn - that'd be a real big achievement for our team. We're going to take it one game at a time just to get there."
Freshman, center, Shawntinice Polk
On playing in the Pac-10 and tough competition... "The Stanford game, them being a top-ranked team, playing at their home court and in front of their fan support will definitely, I think, help us out a lot, especially for us playing on the road."
On the Stanford game... "The Stanford game was a hard loss. We played hard so I can't knock the team or knock myself for that. I don't think I'll be triple-teamed again ... I hope not. To be back playing, after being off for so long, I'm really excited about that." On her learning curve as a freshman post player...
"It's been frustrating at times. The refs let a lot more go, there's a lot more banging inside, that all posts have to get used to. You have to be ready mentally. I think that's a big part of adjusting to the game. For myself, it hasn't been easy but I've done all right with the players I have around me. They've helped me out a lot. I'm adjusting pretty well."